Saturday, January 30, 2010

Talk about a birthright

Can you imagine a world where mainstream medicine is so arrogant that new born babies are inadvertantly denied the very blood nature intended for them? Of course you can, this is it! My mother Judy Mercer's motivation to research the effects of delayed cord clamping was inspired by the common practice of cutting a baby's umbilical cord before all of the blood cycling through the placenta has found its way to the child. Why would anyone do something so unfathomable as deny a baby its very own birth blood? Well, I asked our former pediatrician, who was once head of neonatalogy, who responded "we thought babies' blood was bad for babies, it's too thick." Another practitioner told me similar nonsense. How could anyone think a baby's blood would be bad for it? The blood bank business is another danger to babies. Parents, in fear of "what might happen" deny there babies up to half of their blood, blood they need to fully saturate and stimulate their lungs and brains and every other vital organ. My mother was recently at a birth where 5 oz. of the a baby's beautiful blood had been banked, just in case. Fear is often vampiric.

In recognizing the need for study of these trends in childbirth, NIH funds the research my mother conducts at The Hospital for Women and Infants in Rhode Island where she monitors the effects of delayed cord clamping in preterm infants. Many other researchers around the world have grown interested in this question so my mother is one in a community of very thoughtful practitioners and scientists restoring a great deal of wisdom to the birth process. It's sensible to let the umbilical cord stop pulsing before it's cut. That's the body's signal that the baby's good to go. Patience please. Below, an excerpt from an interview with my moms from Science and Sensibility.

In 1975, I vividly remember reading Frederick Leboyer’s book Birth Without Violence in which he advocates not cutting the umbilical cord until the infant has successfully completed her transition between her two worlds – the fetal world of water and placental respiration and the neonatal world of air and breathing. He says “For a few minutes the baby straddles two worlds…then, slowly, slowly she can cross the threshold from one to the other peacefully and easily with safety…as long as we don’t interfere [by premature clamping of the cord].” I adopted the practice of delaying cord clamping to ensure a more gentle birth and have used it for more than 30 years.

I had an epiphany at a home birth in 1979. An infant was born very rapidly with the cord 2 and 1/2 times around his neck. He was as pale as the white sheet his mother had on her bed and limp and breathless. I was very afraid that I would not be able to resuscitate him. I placed him on the bed and immediately unwrapped the cord from around his neck and dried and stimulated him with no response. His heart rate was well over 100 and the cord was pulsating vigorously. I noticed that his color was changing from the pale white to pink as his body gained the blood back into it. His heart rate was always over 100. In about 1 and 1/2 minutes, he flexed his extremities, opened his eyes and took a gentle breath. He looked at us like “What is the fuss?” and never cried. I tried as hard as I could to get him to cry as I believed at that time that he should do but I could not get him to. He nursed very well and was a normal child at one year of age when I last saw him.


Blood for babies, OK, Brooklyn? OK, Brooklyn hospitals? What better gift for future generations. Now back to our regular nonsense programming here at Brooklynometry...

4 comments:

Old First said...

God bless you for this one.

Lo said...

Wow....your mom's research is one of the reasons my mom chose to give birth at home. You have quite a legacy (birthright?).

amarilla said...

Thanks Daniel, I could always use a blessing. Lo, my dad's a volcanologist so my birthright is very complicated. I was born at home in '66 cause my mom's experience as a nurse taught her a few things.

Mrs. Motley said...

Yes, thank you (and your mom!). My girls were born at home also, for this among other reasons. When I was pregnant with my first in 2001 I thought the national c-section rate of 25% was scary - now it is 32%, and those 32% are not getting their cord blood either.